$10 MIL WIN FOR LOWE AS BREAKAWAY FIGHT ROLLS

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Ameritech Corp. awarded Lowe Direct its $10 million Security Link account last week, but the status of the shop's bigger-budget clients remains unclear as it pursues litigation against breakaway shop Lieber, Levett, Koenig, Farese & Babcock.

Security Link, previously handled by DDB Needham Worldwide, Chicago, will use Lowe Direct "to focus on the residential opportunity . . . which is their area of highest growth," said Lynn Fantom, CEO at New York-based Lowe Direct.

Ameritech said the assignment includes TV spots and direct mail.

Lowe filed suit against five senior executives who left to form Lieber Levett in mid-October, alleging the new agency might poach Roche Laboratories' $45 million Xenical account, Merck's $15 million Fosamax direct account and some Dell Computer business.

XENICAL QUESTION

Roche declined comment on its Xenical assignment. The drugmaker said it was waiting while Lowe attempts to satisfactorily restaff for the anti-obesity drug account following the departure of the executives who formed Lieber Levett.

Lowe, which failed to secure a temporary restraining order against Lieber Levett earlier this month (AA, Nov. 4), will pursue injunctions against the new shop at a Nov. 25 hearing in New York state Supreme Court.

Lieber Levett plans to countersue but has yet to serve Lowe with papers. The agency's deadline to file a countersuit is Nov. 21.

Lawyers for both Lowe and Lieber Levett have met, said Lowe attorney Nicholas Camera, though he would not indicate whether there was a resolution in sight.

Lieber Levett Chairman-CEO Bob Lieber said his agency will secure a multimedia high-tech assignment this week, adding: "It's not a former Lowe client."

Contributing: Michael Wilke.

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